Oldest Aircraft Carrier in the World Nails 350,000th Aircraft Trap, Must Be a Record
It’s not every day that a piece of military equipment is in a position to celebrate some sort of historic landmark. That’s why this latest achievement by the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier is one for the history books.
The Nimitz was launched in 1972. It was commissioned by the U.S. Navy three years later and that same year, in 1975, it nailed its first arrested landing. Now, almost half a century later, the counter has reached 350,000 such events, and that’s some sort of an unofficial record.
An arrested landing takes place when an aircraft’s wheels hit the deck of a carrier and a hook at its rear snatches one of the cables snaking across the surface. It means each successful arrest is actually a safe airplane landing, and in the case of the Nimitz, that happened 350,000 times until now.
The Nimitz (CVN 68) is currently the world’s oldest-serving aircraft carrier. It is also the first of its kind to reach so many successful arrested landings. To give you an idea of what that means, consider that if we are to do an average, the ship had 7,291 landings per year of service. That’s 607 per month or 20 per day.
The milestone was reached on April 22, as the ship sailed in the waters of the South China Sea. The plane that happened to forever be tied to arrested landing number 350,000 is an F/A-18F Super Hornet deployed with the Strike Fighter Squadron 22 Fighting Redcocks (VFA 22).
The Nimitz is the flagship of its own class of aircraft carriers that includes an extra nine ships, divided into three subclasses: Abraham Lincoln, Carl Vinson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, George H.W. Bush, George Washington, Harry S. Truman, John C. Stennis, Ronald Reagan, and Theodore Roosevelt. Of course, the oldest is the Nimitz and the youngest is the Bush, which was commissioned in 2009.
As the second-oldest, the Eisenhower is next in line with the largest number of arrested landings, 326,600 at the time the Navy announced Nimitz’s achievement a couple of days ago.
As for its other capabilities, the Nimitz is a nuclear carrier (with two reactors) that displaces over 100,000 tons. It can move at speeds of 58 kph (36 mph) and stay at sea for a quarter of a century at a time (provided it’s regularly supplied), having virtually no limit on the distance it can cover.
The Nimitz is home to over 6,000 American troops. It is presently deployed in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations together with its entire Strike Group, which comprises the Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17, the Ticonderoga-class USS Bunker Hill, and the Arleigh-Burke class USS Decatur, USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) and USS Wayne E. Meyer.